Spell Haste: Why You Don’t Need It

Spell Haste: Why You Don’t Need It

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A few words on Spell Haste: I can tell that Spell Haste is going to be the next big epeen-measurement stat. There are a couple of reasons behind this, the biggest one being that Sunwell fights are so demanding that Spell Haste is indispensable to heal all the incoming damage. The thought process runs something like this: If it’s good enough for Sunwell, it’s good enough for everyone, right? In fact, the more you have, the better you must be, right? Nope. Of course not – if that were true, I wouldn’t have a reason to post.

Sorry, I missed a left turn at Albaquerque. What is Spell Haste? Simply put, Spell Haste allows you to cast the same spells – faster. 15.67 of Spell Haste is a 1% casting-time reduction. Haste can also decrease your global cooldown to a minimum of one second. (That’s at something like 475 – effectively haste-capped. At this point, I’m not entirely sure it’s even possible to stack up that much spell haste. It certainly isn’t possible without running your other stats into the ground.)

As cool (and useful in Sunwell) as Spell Haste is, there are a lot of reasons it just doesn’t live up to the hype:

Sloppy Healers

Once in a while, some misguided soul will compare healing a raid to playing whack-a-mole. Maybe it’s accurate for your first few raids – before you figure out much about game mechanics and set up your UI properly you might have no idea who was going to take damage next. This is probably why you see so many entry-level wws reports showing an abundance of Flash Heals; the healers just aren’t experienced enough to not play a reactive game. But good healers know their fights, know their raid-mates, and know their raid frames well enough to start a cast before damage happens. Giving those same, inexperienced healers spell haste before developing their other, more relevant stats first, simply reinforces that gut reaction o-m-g-he’s-gonna-die-i-gotta-toss-healz-nao mentality. Spell haste won’t make inexperienced (or bad, for that matter) healers better, but it will train them to think faster is better – when really, planning ahead and paying attention is better.

Opportunity Cost

Flash back to Economics class with me: Opportunity cost is the cost of resources that must be given up in order to obtain other resources. You’ll notice a pattern with pre-Sunwell Spell Haste items – to get the haste, you have to give up mana regen.

Exception: Brooch of Nature’s Mercy, which is worth farming Eagle Boss in ZA for its Spirit alone.

As you’re working your way through content, you have a lot to think about in terms of stat-balancing. Your +healing must be high enough to handle the incoming damage, you have to have enough regen to last the entire fight, and you have to have enough Stamina so that you can actually do some healing. If you’re not to the point where most of your slots have few upgrades, you probably don’t have stats to spare. If you think you do, you probably don’t have enough regen. These other stats are so important for T4, T5, and BT/Hyjal content that giving them up for a stat that is not required is foolish. Wait to stack Spell Haste until you really can afford the cost to your other metrics.

Running Out of Mana

One thing that I notice most often with premature Spell Haste stacking is that casters run out of mana.



Bear with me. (Warning: I like easy math, so I’m using VERY rounded numbers and assuming no Quartz, Lag or other fun stuff)

Say I have a 10k mana pool, and that each Greater Heal costs 500 mana. This means I can throw out 20 of them before I go out of mana. But, I also have 250 Mp5. Each of those 20 casts took 2.5 seconds – a total of 50 seconds.

So I accrued 10 full ticks of my Mp5 – an extra 2500 mana.

An extra 5 Heals. An extra 12.5 seconds of casting.

Which, thanks to the magic of Mp5, bought me ANOTHER 1094 mana.

ANOTHER 2 casts, ANOTHER 5 seconds – and I’m done. (Because that only bought me 250 mana, which added to the 94 I had left over isn’t enough to cast another heal for this experiment.)

So TOTAL, my 10k mana pool and 250 Mp5 bought me 27 heals over 67.5 seconds. (There is a FABULOUS mod called Dr. Damage that will show you all of this in a tool tip.)

If my G.Heal hits for 6k, I just healed for 162,000. But what if we trade regen for S.Haste? Okay, now I have a 10k mana pool, each heal costs 500 mana, so I still get to throw 20 of them before I go oom. But NOW, each of those 20 casts took TWO seconds. So NOW, it only took 40 seconds. Which means I only got 8 ticks of my Mp5, which is now 200. So I only got back 1600 mana. An extra 3 heals. An extra 6 seconds of casting. Only 300 mana back. Suddenly, I’m done. (Sure, I could wait 1 second, and buy a 24th heal but then i’m REALLY done – and it takes me longer to get back in the game, because my regen is less.) Total: 23 heals over 46 seconds. 138,000 healing. Down 24,000. Down by more than my Main Tank’s pool.

For what? To get that 138k out fast enough so that it’s overheals? Because in 95% of the raiding-game, you don’t need to throw ’em out that fast to keep up with the damage, so they would be wasted. But you’re not chain-casting? You’d have more time to regen mana? Great. Then you really don’t need the Spell Haste.

Lack of Available Gear

Another reason not to fuss over Spell Haste too much is how little gear there really is out there with Spell Haste on it. WoWhead lists 29 Priest-friendly healing items with Spell Haste GAME WIDE. Of these, 16 drop in SW, 1 in Hyjal, 2 in BT, and two require Hearts of Darkness. So unless you’re very wealthy or your guild is working through advanced End-game, you have 8 options total – and a few of those are for the same slots!

Not Fully Developed as A Talentable Stat

As Priests, we have a couple of talents that reduce the casting time of certain spells. Could be divine fury, could be shortening up our Mass Dispel or Mana Burns. But, there is no far-reaching talent option to truly take advantage of this stat wholesale. Yet. I anticipate that WotLK will bring a lot more viability to this stat as a whole, with the introduction of talents like Improved Holy Concentration. The new content will probably require a decent amount of Spell Haste, but, as currently implemented, the fact that Spell Haste gains no help from any available builds further decreases the value of gaining it as compared to other stats – spirit or +heal – that DO gain multipliers from our available talent trees.

Sunwell fights are a holy-crap-did-you-see-that-by-the-skin-of-our-teeth kind of experience. I know a guy who, before the 2.4.3 nerfs, was spending nearly 1,000g on Mu’ru attempts PER NIGHT. (Scrolls, haste pots, elixirs, repairs, etc. He’s actually leveling an herbalist just to take the pressure off.) The best comparison is to old-school Naxxramus. You just don’t do Sunwell unless you’re really dedicated to the game, and long after WotLK comes out, veteran raiders will be swapping stories about how hardcore the fights were, and what a mind-bender it was.


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  1. The law of diminishing returns wields its head when considering haste as well. Lot of opporutunity cost for very little incremental benefit. I think the game really doesn’t need another stat to worry about. More stats make gems and likely inscriptions even more confusing than they already will be. I work with stats, and this is just one more thing to massage.

    In addition, being removed from healing/casting/hacking for whatever reason for 1, 2, 0.5 seconds will negate all the Haste one has accumulated. Get that cooldown a little bit lower, say 0.25s, and leave well enough alone.

    idahoes last blog post..Work Work

  2. It’s interesting that your post is about this topic. we had this discussion in guild chat the other night after some folks noticed some of the healers from Blood Legion (world-first Brutallus, etc) were stacking Spell Haste. Most notably Shujenka (http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Illidan&n=Shujenka) has gone out of his way to load up on Spell Haste. The amount of healing he reportedly puts out is ridiculous.

    Drotaras last blog post..Busy busy work day.

  3. Spell haste is littered all over the beta. Well ok Haste and spell haste. I can only assume the mechanics will be critical in some way shape or form. However yeah for pre WotLK I can’t see much point. I wouldn’t mind the spell haste so much for my Boomkin, but my mana regen sucks as it is. For Feral druids the hype over Haste rating is largely that… HYPE. Really liked this post.

    Starmans last blog post..Under the Hood Part 2: Assembly of the Perfect Casual Raid Group

  4. Nice to see the other side of haste for healing mechanics. DPS it helps a ton but only if you do it right.

    You see too many people preemptively stack haste at the cost of too much dmg, and even more egregious, spell hit. But when done correctly you’ll see a massive boost to your dps.

    I can assume there is a “sweet spot” stat wise to get to before it has the most impact for healing as well. I have seen it work wonders for shammy healing though.

  5. Absolutely agreed. Spell Haste for the healing priest isn’t anywhere near a top contender for integral stats. While it’s good when added to other stats, it itemization for Spell Haste often totally disregards other stats that would be more beneficial.

    I see it as being either situational (and, really, with the appropriate application of various HoTs I can’t see this being as possible) or the result of encounters that have been designed to rely heavily on the stat. We’ll have to see more in the expansion to see if this is the case.

    Cynras last blog post..There Have to be Others Like Me

  6. I’ve totally avoided spell haste as a resto druid because I haven’t really found it to be useful. The most benefit we’d get is the reduction to our GCD, allowing us to keep full stacks of hots on 3-4 people easier. But this isn’t really something we have to do much. Another resto druid guildie was thinking of making a haste set and speccing moonglow/HT and seeing if it would be viable to spam downranks of HT. Haven’t really looked for any theorycrafting on that yet.
    Spell haste for shaman though, most notably in Sunwell, is amazing. For alot of fights through BT it’s pretty sweet too, because 95% of the time the resto shaman are just spamming chain heals. It’s also been heard that a resto sham with 400+ spell haste can solo heal Burns on Brutallus (an amazing feat, as it usually takes two dedicated healers for that). This is very advantageous because it cuts out one healer which means one more DPS, which means an easier time beating the enrage.
    Other than this situation, I agree spell haste for other healing classes isn’t something you want to try to stack. Maybe make a haste set when drops are going to get sharded and test it out and see if it works for you/certain fights.

  7. Nice post, but really it should just be called spell haste: why you don’t need it (yet). There’s really little to no point in trying to stack it until late into SW, esp for holy priests.

  8. Oh don’t worry David. The rebuttal is coming.

    Soon (TM).

    *cue ominous music*

  9. I agree wholeheartedly. I’m running in T4 / T5 content with my priest and I really shy away from anything with spell haste.

    Mainly because it would seriously hamper my other stats, but also because you are hard pressed to find any situations where raw HPS matters that much if (everyone pays attention, of course). 😉

    Rakels last blog post..Beta Babbling: Mark of Divinity

  10. Shyraia - Icecrown says

    Spellhaste is littered all over Beta. However, since spellpower is introducded I don’t feel that the cloth gear with haste is meant for priest healers.

    Or even shadow priest. The same theory still goes:

    If your regen cannot keep up with your casting, what’s the use of being able to cast faster?

    It will depend largely on how fast the fights will be if you can afford to have gearpoints go to haste instead of spirit. Without mana no healing, no matter how fast you can cast that spell.

  11. So the real question is: should *I* be stacking spell haste, do I have too much as it is, or are my stats somewhat balanced?
    Note: I know my spirit is low compared to intellect, but thats the gear that is/was available.
    Current progression is 5/5 Hyjal, 4/9 BT.
    Fully Raid Buffed stats:
    12k mana
    10k health
    2.2k healing
    800/350 mana regen
    186 spell haste

    1.3 sec GCD
    2.2 sec Gheal

  12. While you don’t need it in BT content, saying it’s not useful relative to other stats is a bit misleading. If your mana regen is sufficient in your healing group haste is the best stat to improve your healing per second when you get to T5/T6-level gear. (before that, it’s just straight healing, as healing more quickly small amounts isn’t that special). There’s been a lot of theorycrafting about it all over the place, but the long and short of it is not that haste promotes reactive healing. What it does is allow you to cast multiple raid heals in a shorter amount of time, stopcast more quickly without worrying whether a stopcast + another heal will get a cast off in time, keep you O5SR a bit better (because you finish your heal faster, you can wait longer), etc.

    One place that haste absolutely rocks in BT is RoS. Both P2 and P3 have hard timers in terms the encounter duration, and being able to output as much healing as possible in that time is really strong as a mechanic. It’s clearly not required there, but it certainly is strong.

    The question isn’t whether the stat is good; clearly it’s a good stat. The question is whether you can afford it in your role. If you’re still going OOM healing raid damage on Gurtogg the answer is probably no. If you’re good on regen in your role, the answer is probably yes. In either case, you should probably have a haste set and a regen set, and use either as needed for a fight.

    Kals last blog post..[Druid] Random Friday musings

  13. Correct me if I’m wrong…this was written towards those who stack +spell haste below Sunwell, correct? It got a little confusing who it was aimed at partway down. If it’s otherwise, I may punch a wall.

    One thing I reaaaaally want to say though:

    Some people see spell haste as being an outlet for healers who can’t preemptively heal. I have no trouble preemptively healing. My healers in guild have no trouble predicting damage. Does predicting damage have a lick to do with having a faster cast? Nope. You still predict the damage the same. You just heal it faster. Everyone has haste in endgame – it’s simply an endgame stat now. So, it’s like playing a movie in fast-forward: it’s the same dialog and plot, but everything’s just going faster. So no. It does not promote “sloppy healing.” I heal just the same in 230 spell haste as I do in 150 as I did in 0. It made about as much effect on my healing ability as +heal did. Oh yay, my Gheal is 2.2 seconds now. I still cast it the same.

    Saying that (and also believing that it “increases reaction time”) is completely false. Spell haste is not responsible for how you heal. If you use spell haste as a reason to not be as good of a healer, well, I think the issue is you and not the pixelated stat.

    I personally don’t think it’s worth stacking pre-Sunwell at all, much like you, Wyn. Everyone else did all those fights without it, so it’s fairly obvious that it’s not a needed stat. I agree that preSW there are very few clearly itemized possibilities for haste.

    In Sunwell, however, there is a wealth of possibilities. A fully geared SW priest will have 300 spell haste without trying. Someone who gears a bit more heavily (IE Rings, cloak, etc) will have closer to 400. The stat for SW is simply not optional. You can’t get by not “paying attention and planning ahead” either. It’s just not going to happen: you bring your A game, or you suck and get gkicked. And you better use everything in your arsenal to be the best you can be, and that includes spell haste.

    This post really should have been called “Why You Don’t Need It (Yet)” like David said above me. Arguing against Spell Haste for everyone is a very unwise argument indeed.

  14. Launderville says

    I like where this is going, I wish more people thought this way.

    As a mage, I have a spec that works well to support mana regen, and it’s also very cost-effective. Simple 40/21 arcane/frost build.

    makes for frosbolt pewpew, lots of mana, mana regen, and such, and therefore, stacking haste isn’t as much of an expense.

    if you’re a mage, try it.

    That’s all,
    Gnome Mage
    Alliance Feathermoon US

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